09-15-2014, 08:21 AM
#1
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I'm considering getting into the straight razor game, and I've been doing my reading.

It seems like the progress of an edge is something like this:

1. Strop for every use.
2. When stropping isn't effective, use CrOx treated balsa strop.
3. Repeat cycle of 1&2 until balsa/CrOx no longer brings back shave readiness.

So, at step #3, I'm guessing that as long as things have gone well, I don't need the full gamut of stones that a professional knife and razor sharpener uses to neaten up the edge. If I'm right, my question becomes, "what do I need?"

Is that where "barber hones" come in? Or maybe I'm totally off base, and once you get to step 3 the bevel has to be completely reset?

I'm happy to pay for a professional hone should I chip the edge, allow rust to develop, etc. For the time being I'm just interested in keeping things in good order when starting from a good hone.

Thanks in advance,
Eric

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 09-15-2014, 09:28 AM
#2
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You are correct. That is all you need. However, I'd switch balsa strop for a leather paddle strop. A DIY is cheap and easy. The edge is smoother IMO.

If you find that Crox does not bring the edge back, then you'll want a finishing stone which is anything 10,000 grit or above. Barber's hones are generally in that range, but there's some not so good ones being made today.

Personally, I like the Naniwa super stones for touch up work.

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 09-15-2014, 10:08 AM
#3
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Okay. Glad to hear I have the basic idea. I have an antique barber hone I inherited from my great grandfather, but I haven't yet examined it closely for scratches and chips.

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 09-15-2014, 10:24 AM
#4
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(09-15-2014, 10:08 AM)Songwind Wrote: Okay. Glad to hear I have the basic idea. I have an antique barber hone I inherited from my great grandfather, but I haven't yet examined it closely for scratches and chips.

If it has any, wet/dry sandpaper and a flat surface (marble slab, granite slab, glass plate) will fix it right up for you. Oh, and a lot of elbow grease.

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 09-15-2014, 12:36 PM
#5
  • Obie
  • Senior Member
  • Glendale, Wisconsin
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Eric,

Welcome to the straight razor world. If I may suggest, worry about honing later and concentrate on learning how to shave with the straight razor, and how to strop it properly. Stropping skill is essential, because you need to strop before each shave, and strop properly. And keep your daily strop pristine — give the leather component a hand rubbing every day. Send out your first razor for a professional honing. That will not only give you a shave ready razor, but it will also give you an idea of what a properly honed razor should be. One step at a time will give you a good start.

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 09-16-2014, 10:46 AM
#6
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A good point. This was really more in the spirit of "what's this really going to cost me" as I get all my facts straight.

(09-15-2014, 12:36 PM)Obie Wrote: Eric,

Welcome to the straight razor world. If I may suggest, worry about honing later and concentrate on learning how to shave with the straight razor, and how to strop it properly. Stropping skill is essential, because you need to strop before each shave, and strop properly. And keep your daily strop pristine — give the leather component a hand rubbing every day. Send out your first razor for a professional honing. That will not only give you a shave ready razor, but it will also give you an idea of what a properly honed razor should be. One step at a time will give you a good start.

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 09-16-2014, 11:09 AM
#7
  • Obie
  • Senior Member
  • Glendale, Wisconsin
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Eric,

As in any new venture, some sort of an initial cost is unavoidable. You can keep it relatively reasonable by starting the smart way. Smart in my opinion, anyway.

In the beginning, all you need is a good straight razor that is shave ready and a quality strop. You already have the brush and the soap so you have no expense there. Yes, keeping cost in mind is important, but not as much as the willingness to devote time and energy to the art and craft of straight razor shaving, for you need to be patient and persistent.

Your main objective starting out is to concentrate on the straight razor skill. This is not as easy as it sounds; yet, it is not as formidable a task as one would think. Take your time and learn it well. Not only that, but learn how to strop well. The strop, as I have noted before, is essential to maintaining an edge on your razor. No, the strop does not sharpen your razor — maybe a hint of it. It reconstruct the edge from the previous shave.

Depending on how often you use your razor, your edge should be okay for two or three months, provided you strop properly. By then, it will be time to have the razor honed, which should cost you about $25 or so, and then you're set for the next two or three months. This should give you enough time for research on hones and honing methods. Then you can evaluate your finances.

You see, a little at a time will do it. Also, find yourself a mentor.

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 09-16-2014, 05:59 PM
#8
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If you want to practice honing, get some Gold Dollar razors (can be had for around $4 each straight from China, need to then be modified to work properly), a Naniwa progression (1k, a 3k/8k combo)and a finisher like a Nani 12k. I'd steer you away from naturals at first. Don't learn honing on your razor you actually are using.

Once you really have a handle on the strokes, the progressions, using your slurry, etc, and you move along to touch-ups, there are a few options.

-Go for a synthetic for consistency and very, very sharp edges. Some feel that these edges are "harsh". I like the Gokumyo 20k for a no-holds-barred stone if your budget allows. Cheaper option would be the Naniwa 12k

-Go for a natural for smoother edges that are "delightfully dull." Advanced users only! I don't mean it in a negative way, but a natural edge isn't as sharp, yet it has plenty of keenness and a smoother feel on the face compared to a synthetic. I use a Chinese water hone, I hear great things about the Zulu Grey, and Japanese naturals are just a whole different world with just insane levels of customization for what you are looking for in a stone.

-Or use a barber's hone like a Franz Swaty. Very "fast" cutters so they refresh your edge quickly. Honestly I don't have a ton of experience with these.

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 09-16-2014, 06:26 PM
#9
  • evnpar
  • Emeritus
  • Portland, Oregon
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(09-16-2014, 11:09 AM)Obie Wrote: Eric,

As in any new venture, some sort of an initial cost is unavoidable. You can keep it relatively reasonable by starting the smart way. Smart in my opinion, anyway.

In the beginning, all you need is a good straight razor that is shave ready and a quality strop. You already have the brush and the soap so you have no expense there. Yes, keeping cost in mind is important, but not as much as the willingness to devote time and energy to the art and craft of straight razor shaving, for you need to be patient and persistent.

Your main objective starting out is to concentrate on the straight razor skill. This is not as easy as it sounds; yet, it is not as formidable a task as one would think. Take your time and learn it well. Not only that, but learn how to strop well. The strop, as I have noted before, is essential to maintaining an edge on your razor. No, the strop does not sharpen your razor — maybe a hint of it. It reconstruct the edge from the previous shave.

Depending on how often you use your razor, your edge should be okay for two or three months, provided you strop properly. By then, it will be time to have the razor honed, which should cost you about $25 or so, and then you're set for the next two or three months. This should give you enough time for research on hones and honing methods. Then you can evaluate your finances.

You see, a little at a time will do it. Also, find yourself a mentor.

+1 Very sound advice!

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 09-17-2014, 06:17 PM
#10
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It's possible to maintain a razor with a barber hone, but for me a full set of Naniwas is preferable. 1K to set bevel, 5K, 8K and 12K.

Also, for much cheaper, you can get lapping film from 30K, to fix really bad edges to 15 or 12K to set bevels, 9,5,3,1, 0.3. You can touch up with the 3 and 1 and then go to chromium oxide or the 0.3. You spray water on a "marble" or glass slab from the hardware store. Place down the lapping film. Spray water on top and then do laps, maybe 40 to 60.

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 09-18-2014, 06:35 AM
#11
  • Doc226
  • edge snob (and proud of it)
  • Smallest State
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I would go with a JNAT and a DMT card




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 09-18-2014, 06:53 AM
#12
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What level of coarseness is the DMT card?
I'm going to do this -- just a jnat and DMT card to start. You're the second person I trust to give the advice to go that way. (Apologies if you've said what level of coarseness in the video. I can't hear audio on it just now).

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 09-18-2014, 08:28 AM
#13
  • geezer
  • Senior Member
  • Menomonie, Western WI
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I started and shaved for a year with the cheap King / Ice bear hones 1k/6k and also with the Norton 4k/8k. A barber hone or ChromOx paddle worked from there.
Expensive hones are just that. Until you have experience, use the ones you can get your questions answered on any shave forum.
A good strop is priceless...after you get the knowhow to use one properly! A cheap $30 something is a good start. Fromm and Illinois (Same) will work for now or a home made paddle strop ic a good answer.
YMMV...but not much!
~Richard

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 09-18-2014, 09:58 AM
#14
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A good strop is definitely priceless, but using a starter strop until you stop nicking it is a good idea.

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 09-18-2014, 03:57 PM
#15
  • Doc226
  • edge snob (and proud of it)
  • Smallest State
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(09-18-2014, 06:53 AM)wagstaff Wrote: What level of coarseness is the DMT card?
I'm going to do this -- just a jnat and DMT card to start. You're the second person I trust to give the advice to go that way. (Apologies if you've said what level of coarseness in the video. I can't hear audio on it just now).

It is a worn DMT 600, I have also used an Atoma 1200 (well broken in)

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 09-18-2014, 04:35 PM
#16
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Thanks, Doc. The Atoma, I assume, was a full size plate (?) Or do they make cards, too? I think I'll grab that 600 DMT card and do some speed-wearing of it. That's about the least pricey way to get a faux-nagura that I can think of, anyway.

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 09-18-2014, 04:56 PM
#17
  • Doc226
  • edge snob (and proud of it)
  • Smallest State
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(09-18-2014, 04:35 PM)wagstaff Wrote: Thanks, Doc. The Atoma, I assume, was a full size plate (?) Or do they make cards, too? I think I'll grab that 600 DMT card and do some speed-wearing of it. That's about the least pricey way to get a faux-nagura that I can think of, anyway.

The Atome is the full size one, I use it for lapping.

Get the DMT card, amazon has them.

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 06-09-2015, 02:43 PM
#18
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That is great video, the change in abrasion that can achieved with natural stones is intricating.

Ordered a 12k Shapton today, and am ecstatic. Sharpening is a hobby of its own... Biggrin

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 06-15-2015, 10:59 AM
#19
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I just did a little head to head with the naniwa 10k super stone vs the Chinese 12k from woodcraft. While the naniwa cut faster the Chinese 12k edge was much smoother IMHO. 

If you want to go higher personally if you have the cash to burn and you know what your doing naniwa chosera(now naniwa professional) is smooth as silk. They are pricey though. Shapton glass stones are great as well. Naniwa super stones have the same abrasive as choseras just a different binder so they are cheaper.

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 06-15-2015, 11:35 AM
#20
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My shapton is a magnesium stone from japan, not the glass plate one. So many stones!
Btw just found what looks like little shaving box holding a razor and a german fine stone both inside a shoe polish type box, on top of it a small floating strop....hm..Smile

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